20 August 2009

Obama Administration Approves Oil Sands Pipeline

Recently, I pointed to an pending decision by the Obama Administration on whether to approve a pipeline to bring carbon-intensive petroluem to the U.S. from Canadian oil sands. President Obama has approved the pipeline:

Most of the oil shipped on the line will come from Canadian oil sands producers, which have been under from some U.S. environmental groups and legislators for boosting greenhouse gas emissions because of expanding production in the oil sands -- a Florida-sized region of northern Alberta that contains the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East.

The State Department said it took greenhouse gas emissions into account when deciding to issue the permit, saying that the issue is best addressed through the domestic policies of the United States and Canada and through international agreements.


  1. Is the Obama administration's intention to let them build the pipeline and then bankrupt anyone who dares burn the oil that comes through it?

  2. A quick check of Google News gets about 10 hits for this story in the United States. The Washington Post and Boston Herald and a few weekly advertisers think the topic is worth acknowledging. Apparently, ecological destruction for oil is no problem as long as it happens in another country. Oil extraction from shale or tar sands is nasty no matter how you do it. As opposed to extraction in a place like ANWR, which can be done without effect on the surface environment.

  3. Has Joe Romm's head exploded yet?

  4. NWB, you make a good point about the relative environmental costs of oil sands versus ANWR.

    What nobody seems to take notice of, however, is that in both cases the lands involved are in the hands of governments, not private parties, so decisions regarding them are both bureaucratic and heavily influenced by political considerations - desires for revenues, citizen concerns, and the relative power of competing enery/enviro interest groups.

    If we truly lived in market economies and the resources were in private hands, we would certainly see different development decisions, and greater cooperation between the competing interest groups.

    Instead, we are moving rapidly towards stronger central government influence on all business decisions, which leads both to greater politicization of decisions and to greater likelihood of opacity and backroom deals.